The Albion Xmas Spectacular @ Sugarmill

Christmas gigs at the Sugarmill are always something special, and tonight was no exception as some of Stoke’s finest indie rock bands took to the stage to get everyone into the Christmas spirit.

First was The Hinds who performed a nice set to ease everyone into the night. They seemed thoroughly comfortable on the stage which in turn meant they set a vibrant vibe for the night to come. Their experience shone through with excellent execution, and it was a shame the crowd didn’t seize the opportunity to get more involved as they truly did belt out some terrific tracks.

Next up was Bonsai who managed to infuse an impulse of energy into the night with that classic indie sound that everybody loves. For me they are a prime example of what indie rock music is about, which is simply getting up there, doing what they love and producing something great. The atmosphere that accompanied their set was full of excitement and their playing too was pretty top notch. I’m looking forward to what else is to come from these lads as they definitely showed potential and gave everyone a taste of what they are capable of.

Headliners The Albion were quick to impress with their set, with a well balanced mixture of some original tracks but also some spectacular indie covers, including Courteeners No You Didn’t, No You Don’t and Arctic Monkeys Still Take You Home. This really got the crowd into the spirit which in turn meant a fabulous reaction to their own songs, which were quite impressive. It was clear they had already established a loyal fan base with just one glance at the crowd, and the room was electric as no one held back. They ended their set with a personal favourite Arctic Monkeys track of mine A Certain Romance, which paired with a snow machine left the crowd ecstatic and wanting more. They definitely left a lasting impression on the stage; watch out for these lads in 2015!

The evening overall was fun, fierce and feel-good. Everyone appeared to have had an outstanding time, and who can blame them? It was clear from the start that with these 3 talented bands the result was only going to be a good one.

Alisha

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Full Moon Fest 19.12.14

What’s better than watching 5 live bands as an early Christmas treat? … Not a lot really, especially with the mix and explosions of talent. Bands locally, non-local and covering array of genres put a step in everyone’s dance moves.

First on was Manchester based Bourbon Street Beat. My description is simple. Its George Ezra framed by The Black Keys with a splash of 50s rock and roll. Mixing the classic sound over with a modern twist turns into an incredible groovy beat.  As only a three piece the musically connections work smoothly especially having to improvise endings on occasion. Personally favourite was for certain Feel the Rush, the addictive rock and roll beat had me hooked.

The Devil Blues showed us another bluesy rock and roll performance. Local lads have got it tighter since Summer time since I last saw them. They’ve worked on the duo vocal which has paid off. The contrast between Adam’s gritty vocal and James’s clear shout gives The Devil Blues a grungy, dirty underground sound. Live, there isn’t any personally connection just yet but musically, the experimentation with blues and rock is paying off.

New indie Britpop band on the scene Bonamalis by far did their best performance to date. They have this early Oasis twang to their sound, the nasally vocal and working class lyrics puts them under the same umbrella as Oasis for definite. The whole band live thoroughly enjoy themselves when playing, the energy feeds off into the audience and bounces back into the music, especially in the new tune Charlie and surprise cover Come on Feel the Noise by Slade.

What a set. What a debut set. We Few smashed it. There was a constant rush of frantic energy that demanded attention, and the attention they did get! The strong gritty guitars were sandwiched together with pulsing bass and the solid drum beat then topped off with Tom’s mature sexy vocals and screams. Speech within tracks is a real guilty pleasure of mine personally, working it around the music and making the speech mean something is a difficult skill to pull off. My personal favourite has to be Push, physically no words why. Positively speechless.

It was so good to finally witness The Assist live after months of listening to their music. The four piece from Walsall bring their bouncy beats and loveable charm to Stoke and people loved it. It’s all strength to strength with these lads. The golden shine for The Assist is their confidence for a young band. The bass driven melodies are driven so smoothly yet with a raw edge. The relationship with Ben’s strident addictive drum beat layered with Ryan’s resilient riffs makes such an impact on the overall sound, especially in a personally favourite – The Assist. The relationship between all band members on stage made the gig more enjoyable, smiles and laughter just shows how much The Assist love it. A great live band, one to watch.

LC

Circus Junkie Rebels @ Underground 15/12/14

Excitement oozed from The Underground on Saturday as a night of classic rock n roll waited to be unravelled.

First to take the stage was Sons of Andal, an energetic rock band who showed everyone how it was done. With loud, thumping guitar riffs and fast paced drumming, they crafted a rebellious and upbeat atmosphere that got everyone ready for the night to come.

Next was female fronted band Silverchild, who showed that women can do rock just as well. You could see the chemistry that the members had on stage together, and this added with a brilliantly executed set only highlighted the powerful impact of their music.

Finally Circus Junkie Rebels made their way on to the stage, giving everyone a taste of the classic old school rock n roll. Possessing both charisma and style, especially from Corey on bass pulling off some shades, they looked perfectly at ease as they belted out their own tracks and also a great Led Zeppelin cover. Guitarist Joseph played with both passion and skill, and the mix between ballads and upbeat tracks allowed Dani to showcase his vocal abilities. The use of a keyboard was nice to see and illustrated the extent of their skill and intuition. Chris demonstrated superb drumming also, particularly in his solo, which broke up the set nicely and I was glad to finally see a band with such confidence grace the stage.

Overall, the night allowed that spark of rock n roll to be ignited again and definitely washed out the cold with the extent of the energy and enthusiasm from all the bands.

Alisha

Moral Panics @ Sugarmill 08/12/14

Moral Panics returned to Stoke Saturday night to fill the Sugarmill with their well polished modern sound.The band of 4 produce music as cool as their outfits and have clearly struck the right chord to fill the Sugarmill with fans who’ve anticipated their return for a while. And they certainly delivered! Entertaining the crowd with energy and still professional elegance, these boys have the mix of eccentricity and an engaging presence down to a T.

They weren’t alone on their return, accompanied by The Personas, a young local indie rock band who’s performance was crazy and yet brilliantly executed. They were also supported by new alternative band Release, who played a mix of their own music and well known covers including Buzzcocks’ Ever fallen in Love and Joy Divisions Transmission.

The last to support were 3 piece alternative rock band from Manchester, Man Made. The trio played a variety of their own music including their new single TV Broke my Brain which is out now. It’s no surprise that cool deep feel down to a T after also performing at Reading and Leeds this year.

Each band killed it and the combination of the 4 was total genius, I hope to see more of each and I’m sure everyone there would agree.

Holly.

Jonny Brown, Rinse, Pickering White and Bonamalis @ Exchange 01/12/14

Saturday night saw the return of Jonny Brown to Stoke, what a welcome he had too. Luckily for him he has three top notch local band supporting, still fresh on the scene Bonamalis, duo Pickering White and another newish band Rinse.

The night was kicked off my new, energised 4 piece, Bonamalis. The cross over between 60s rock and roll and 90s rock and roll, sometimes people find boring, however Bonamalis are laying it clean with simple melodies, chunky chords and drum flourishes. These elements make up the background of the delicate song writing. Despite mistakes on stage, they happen to the best of people but how you control those mistakes, controls the mood and atmosphere of the set, luckily Bonamalis still kept it strong.

Regardless of losing band members, Pickering White are tight as ever as a duo. The musical talent is still growing stronger. Obviously all tracks have be stripped back to an acoustic vibe which still has that significant rock and roll, 60 RnB sound with a solid melodic speed with actual excitement. Nice to see something retro brought into modern times with so much passion, if they manage to keep this up, 2015 could possibly be the year for Pickering White.

Main support act, Rinse is a band I’d recommend everyone to go a catch very soon. The mellow psychedelic indie vibes is highly addictive. Rinse captivate with tight guitar riffs, potent bass and torrential drums, there’s just no stopping with the talent. The honest, heartfelt lyrics make it hard to resistant singing along. They have left Radicals Rising hungry for more new music!

Don’t really have much to say about Jonny Brown, literally speechless. He just shows that no matter how bad you feel and how terrible you play, people are still gonna love you for what you do.

Lucee